In the second-to-last SEC game of the regular season, the Florida football team found a decent footing and re-assessed the tenacity of a team that was in question after Florida-Georgia.
Shutting out Vanderbilt? Check. Revenge after a sour 18-point deficit in 2018? Check. But what did the Gators figure out after exiting arguably the toughest loss of the season? Saturday’s result…Florida 56, Vanderbilt 0.
The first half of Florida’s demolition wasn’t its most poised. Two touchdown drives in the first half got the Gators ahead 14-0. But that lead hardly spoke to the talent match up Vanderbilt was pitted against. The second half offered a better picture.
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask found some trouble on a few reads, throwing for two interceptions in the first two quarters. The mistakes never truly came back to bite the Gators. Instead, Trask would finish the game with 363 yards and three touchdowns to remedy the mishaps.
Trask discussed his strategies for success, on running the ball and passing it.
Any game-planning the Gators needed was surrounding Commodores running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the fourth most productive back in the SEC. Vanderbilt is an offense that is heavily reliant on its running game, but the powerful run defense was too much for Vaughn. Combined with Keyon Brooks, both backs recorded a dismal 62 yards off of 26 attempts.
Instead, Florida’s quarterbacks had the edge in the ground game. Emory Jones’ three rushing touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters added to the lopsided win.
Vanderbilt scrambled against Florida’s restructured defense. The secondary saw some adjustments, with Kaiir Elam in at cornerback and Marco Wilson taking over the starting role for Trey Dean at the Star position.
But most of the magic happened right off the snap. Defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga was once again sidelined, but that was a non-issue. The defense was led by freshman Mohamoud Diabate, who notched a career-high three sacks and a tackle that led to a Vanderbilt three-and-out. A third quarter Diabate strip-sack led to a Jonathan Greenard fumble recovery for a monster 80-yard touchdown.
Wide receiver Trevon Grimes also put up some major yardage, scoring a 66-yard touchdown reception from Trask. Lamical Perine and Kyle Pitts also contributed to the receiving effort, scoring touchdowns in the second and third quarters, respectively.
The receiver spoke on the newly-embraced team mentality entering Vanderbilt.
Closing it out
A relief win, some might call it. However phrased, the Gators’ Vanderbilt win is a launchpad to closing in the regular season in the most controllable manner possible. Simply put; Florida did what it was supposed to do, and fully avenged 2018’s near-loss.